My current nocturnal tendencies (which are driving me absolutely nuts, incidentally) are making it very difficult to get to the farmers’ markets of late, but Sunday was a choir Sunday, which means that one has to get up early anyway… at which point, one would clearly be a fool *not* to take the opportunity to replenish one’s supply of farmers’ market goodies.
Sunday marketing means a return to Flemington for us – we have not yet investigated the charms of the Substation Market in Newport, though I certainly have my eye on it (and also on Bundoora Park for next week, since I’ve heard rumours that Gumtree Pies are there monthly). And this is rather lovely, as we get to visit old friends – and meet the odd non-market friend, too – as well as investigating the new stalls.
(It also means leaving one’s umbrella in the car and getting rained on, apparently. Or at least, it has the last few times we’ve been there…)
Our first stop today was the intriguing Lockton Farm Sausages, purveyors of sausages that contain unexpected and fascinating combinations of meat, herbs and vegetables. And I’ve just realised that ‘unexpected’ in the context of sausages is probably not a good thing to write, so let me hasten to add that this is definitely a *good* sort of unexpected. There are duck à l’orange sausages, pork sausages with apple and fennel, Madras beef sausages, chicken sausages with asparagus and cheese (when asparagus is in season), and every other kind of sausage you could possibly want. And these are meal-sized sausages – one sausage per person is a delicious sufficiency, especially if you serve the sausage with red cabbage and chutney and mashed potato and maybe some green peas, if Andrew isn’t paying attention…
(it’s OK, Andrew. I didn’t buy any peas. This time.)
Apparently, they have recently lost their supplier of duck, so these were the last duck à l’orange sausages for the foreseeable future – very sad news indeed, and we were quick to take advantage of our final opportunity to taste this delicacy.
Speaking of meaty delicacies (and apologies to my vegetarian readers – this was an unusually meaty market visit, but if you skip this paragraph, I will return you to your regularly scheduled vegetables), they were selling wallaby a few stalls down, which was exciting – rump and sausages, both on special. We partook. I foresee some very exciting meals in our future.
To our delight, we actually managed to coincide with Rita and her family, who had particularly lovely looking cardoons, as well as purple cauliflower, and those lovely broccoli sprouts which are so much easier to manage than whole broccoli heads.
She also had her crumbed artichoke bottoms, which are an automatic buy for us, and went down a treat with our wallaby sausages for Sunday dinner.
To my surprise, Jindivick hydroponics were there, with tomatoes, capsicums and eggplants. It seems totally wrong to buy eggplants in winter, but I still can’t resist them. And really, if food miles are what I’m worrying about, these veggies have not travelled all that far – about 100km, all told. Totally allowable. And it’s not like we’re talking about asparagus (I wish we were talking about asparagus…). I loved their bright orange capsicums, too, so we collected a few of them, as well. No tomatoes this time, since we already had a set going evil on our fruit stand – but fear not, they went into a pasta bake tonight with Rita’s broccoli, Jindivick’s capsicums, and bechamel sauce featuring parmesan from the Coburg farmers’ market last month. Incidentally, the parmesan was amazing, and I’m going to have to figure out where it was from, but currently the internet hates me, so now is not the time…
We became intrigued by a stall called ‘Spread Jam Pickle‘, which had a really interesting array of… well, if you can’t guess what they sell, I’m not going to give it away. We don’t do spoilers on this blog. Anyway, I was particularly taken with the rhubarb rose geranium jam, which had a wonderfully floral/herbal taste, with the sharpness of rhubarb underneath. It seems to cry out to be served on a tart with lemon curd. I’m pretty sure this can be arranged. We have, in fact, finally started running out of jam (it only took 13 months of steadfastly refusing to buy jam from anywhere), which is very exciting because it means I can start buying jam again. (I will undoubtedly have us knee-deep in jam before the month is out.) This meant also got to go over for a lovely chat with Robyn from Misty Spring, who we haven’t seen for a while, and finally buy some jam from her! Hooray! We decided to go for the classics – raspberry jam and apricot jam. I should make some bread, actually. (Sorry, this is a very stream-of-consciousness post because I am still really, really tired and nocturnal!)
Robyn always sets up shop next to Wild Dog Natural Produce, and we haven’t seen John for months (whenever we’ve been there, it’s been his wife running the stall), so we settled in for a catch-up. They have built a new green house in order to start their growing season a bit earlier – apparently, they have very long, frosty winters, followed by extremely hot summers, which does not sound to me like optimal farming conditions, but John quickly explained that while this makes for more work, the harsh climate produces much sweeter strawberries and better produce all around. Assuming you can keep it alive (that part was my gloss).
We chatted about his plans to try growing sweet potatoes, which I very much hope will be successful, as I love them and have never seen them at a farmers’ market, and then had a bit of a rueful discussion about the fact that our cities all tend to be built on the best farmland in the country. Well, of course they do – when they were settled, people were more interested in ensuring they could feed themselves than in planning for the people who would live there 200 years later. I liked John’s idea about designing cities with a CBD surrounded by a donut-shaped band of market gardens, and then the suburbs beyond that. (To this, I have mentally added an excellent radial railway system, and an outer and inner circle train line, because I wish we still had one of those in Melbourne…)
I want to live in that city now.
Anyway, I was doing a fine job of making myself late for choir by this point, so we collected our pumpkin and garlic and quickly moved on to get the rest of our veggies before it was too late! I was intrigued by the tiny squash blossoms at one stall, and collected a bagful, along with the last half red cabbage (to go with the aforementioned duck sausages, of course).
By this point, we were running really late, so we quickly popped into the next stall for some giant mushrooms, before buying a pain au chocolat each from the bakery and running away to choir…
Mushroom sandwiches are in our future. As, perhaps, are battered squash flowers. And wallaby rump. And let’s not forget the cardoons…
It’s going to be a tasty week.